Monday, October 19, 2009


I've been writing a lot of music lately.

I don't know if any of it is really good, but it helps me and doesn't hurt anybody, so I will keep doing it.

Somebody said once that, after experiencing pain, you either get better or you get bitter. I really want to choose the former. And I also like to think that I have that choice, that we all do. It's nothing so tangible as typing these words onto blogger, but in a way, we write our stories. We don't write what the supporting characters in our stories do or say, as much as God knows I'd like to sometimes, but we do write the main character's story.

We write ourselves.

I have also been thinking a lot about the difference between reacting and acting. Like how the former is subjective to what is going on around us--read: not in our control. Which ultimately means that, since our choices are in direct correlation to somebody else's choices, we are not in control of our own choices. Which leads to us doing things we never thought we'd do before. Not everybody ends up in the kind of extreme situations we hear about on the news by happenstance. Somewhere along the way they decide to give up their autonomy, to be like a wave tossed by the sea and when the sea turns angry, they turn too.

But then there is acting.

Choosing how I will act, what I will say, who I will love, and where I will be no matter what anybody around me does. It's not exactly natural, I think. It's easy to simply put back into the universe what has come my way. But what if the things that have come my way aren't good? Do I then become like them and return the favor?

No, that leads to bitterness.

Not betterness.

And that's not a word.

But all this to say, I am really trying to deal with pain--any kind of pain--in a healthy way. To talk to trusted people. Write music. Pray. Read good, beautiful books. Walk thirteen miles in the wee hours of the morning without any ID or phone. Okay, so the jury is still out on whether or not that last one is healthy, but...Isn't that at least exercise? Which most doctors would say was healthy, right?

But music.

It helps me a lot. And when all I really want to do is walk into a wall as hard as I can, it's nice to be able to pick up a guitar and sing instead. It's healthy. It's better.

What helps you?


Mom said...

Great blog. I'm familiar with pain, the kind of pain that is so deep that it takes your breath away, and all you can do is concentrate on taking life very slowly.

Walking in nature is probably the most important thing I do, that and praying. I honestly don't know what I would have decided to do at times if I didn't have this outlet. Also telling one friend who I absolutely without a doubt trust so that I am not isolated. And then I also do little things, like eat only good food because sugar doesn't help when you're in pain. And then I wait for time to pass so God can heal me. Sometimes I wear my shirt that says, "This Too Shall Pass." Remember: it has a picture on it of a stick figure being run over by a train. For some reason, it's oddly comforting.

Jessica Latshaw said...

yeah, mom-I know that shirt! I didn't know it helped you that much, though. I am glad it does...And walking in nature helps m a lot too. It's good to see beautiful things, I think--gives hope.

Sarah said...

sometimes allowing myself to let go and cry about things that are painful really helps's easy to just keep on going and ignore pain, but i always feel better when i address it and let myself feel it. also, playing the piano..and btw, this is a great post..

lindsay said...

Jessica, this post was beautiful. I'm glad that you have creating music as an outlet. I work through things while I run, hike, or bake. It also really helps me to talk to God and write.

Jessica Latshaw said...

Sarah--you are so right about letting go and crying. In the moment, it usually doesn't make me feel better--it really hurts. Which is why, I guess, I am doing it in the first place. But it's one of those things that the more you let out, the more you will eventually be healed, I think.

Linsday--exercise is a big one for me too. Sometimes I feel like I am just going to jump out of my skin, or like I WANT to, so the next best thing is to ACTUALLY jump. Or dance. Or run. Or something that burns calories and gives me endorphins. And I love that baking helps you...that reminds me of the movie, Waitress. The main girl baked everything she was feeling and experiencing into these amazing pies; I think the measuring, the kneading, the biding her time all helped to give her a feeling of control and safety as she created her pies. Anyway, it was a good movie:)

kathiek said...

Thanks for sharing your heart in this post, Jess (in every post, actually). I am trying to be one who acts in healthy ways when faced with pain (particularly that caused by others), rather than react in unhealthy ways. It is certainly not an easy choice, but it is best in the long run. I would rather be better, not bitter. Bitter isn't better for anyone.

It helps me to listen to worship music. Lately I have been listening almost exclusively to Jeremy Riddle's cd, The Now and the Not Yet, over and over again. I also write. I write out my prayers, I write on my blog, or I write poetry. I talk to trusted people. I ask people to pray for me. I pray, too, but it has been hard to do that lately, so it helps to know others are also praying. I cry a lot.

Michele said...

Seems to be a season of sadness all around lately. Several people have said nature helps - I agree. There's something restorative about it. I also find a trusted person to share with - otherwise I think the enemy makes things unbearable. I also cry out to God - sometimes really loudly! I'm positive God will honor your desire to be better not bitter. You are loved Jessica.

sarah said...

yeah..i think that there is healing after a good cry..there have been times ive cried so hard at night and in the morning i feel like a weight has comforts me to know that even in my pain and crying, God is there and He really knows our hearts, whether we are crying out loud or just our hearts are so broken..ive always loved the verse that He is close to the broken hearted and saves those crushed in you and im so glad you'll be home soon..

Anna K said...

Jess, I love it when you play the piano between shows. I feel honored every time I hear your music, even from a distance.
If there is anything else you need (other than someone to push you into a wall, 'cause I'm not really in to that), I hope you know I'm here for you.
Thanks again for joining my family for dinner yesterday. It was so so nice to spend time with you! I hope you are having a great couple of days off.

Anna K said...

...that is something that helps me; spending time with wonderful people.
Also, I really enjoyed the movie The Waitress as well.

Jessica Latshaw said...

Anna--you are kindness itself. And it was no surprise to find out that your family is so wonderful--of course they are! Thank you for inviting me to dinner; it was lovely:)

sachiyo.munechika said...

Jessica, As always, this is a great post. It is sharing your heart truly and great reminder for all of us. I have been both bitter and better and I know people who become bitter or better, and I am also the one who trying to be better though knowing it is not easy in life.

Shame I could not see you while you were in Japan. So now I might seem a very much stranger out of nowhere to you ! So better to introduce myself a little so you don't have to be afraid of me...
I am a yoga teacher and study it in India every year. (
Yoga is not only fitness excrise nor something esoteric as it spreads in the world now, but it is actually something to reduce our suffering and lead us to be happier.

My teacher always tell us,
Don't react, but response.
It is same thing you say difference of react and act.

Best thing to be away from pushing myself to wall is "dance" for me.
Instead of hurting myself more, I can love myself more. My perspective of world become bigger.
Because I can really put myself in my small box.
I do anything it calms and clears my mind, and to focus on something better to focus on.
Own yoga practice takes a huge role in this time too.
Cleaning house and be with positive, clear-minded people with a good humour and warmth.

Ooops, I write too much.
I know how pain feels.
I try to contact with my own happiness more than pain because it has power to heal my heart and love can shape its necessary response from my heart - where the source of love.
I also ask force of time to heal.


Darby said...

Jessic, when I am in deep pain, I try to bring comfort to every sense that I have. When I was at my lowest ever, a good friend of mine gave me a gift of five things. She gave me a little bottle of clove oil, because I love that smell. She gave me my favorite George Winston album to hear that I hadn't heard since I was 15. She gave me a very soft little piece of material to feel. She gave me some of my favorite chocolate to taste. And she gave me a beautiful little ornament to look at.

When I am feeling intense pain in my heart, I quietly tell myself things that I tell Lyric and Ollie when they are hurting. Things that I wish someone would say to me. I take warm baths, I light good smelling candles, I go window shopping and look at beautiful things, I buy some art supplies and make something small, I play music, I go for a drive and look out the window and listen to music. The forward motion makes me feel like some day I will move out of the pain I am in. (I know you don't have a car, but maybe you could take a short bus ride.:) )

I drink hot tea in a mug I love to hold, I wear a soft scarf. And I always carry around this tiny little marble that is beautiful to me... it is a dark midnight blue/purple with swirls of sparkly white, and it looks like the universe with it's galaxies. It makes me feel like I am holding the world in my hand, and that world is so tiny. For a moment, I step outside myself and remember how temporary my life on earth really is, how small the universe is in comparison to a God who claims to love me, and how very tiny I am. And if I'm so very tiny and my pain is inside me, that makes my pain even TINIER--in the grand scheme of things. And for some reason, that change in perspective shifts something momentarily, and I breathe a sigh, and I have a small respite in which to gather strength for the next wave of grief that will come soon.

I try to fill my heart with things that mean something to me. I intentionally experience the moment as a comforting moment while I take in beauty of some other kind. I feel it strengthen my heart as I work through my grief and pain. There are so many beautiful things in the world, even in the midst of intense heartache.

You are an artist in every sense of the word, Jessic. You have a great capacity to find beauty in the smallest of things. I think intentionally letting that beauty balance out the pain makes us stronger and better, and keeps the seed of bitterness from being able to find a place to hide, take root, and grow.

I love you.

Jessica Latshaw said...

Sachiyo, I wish that we could have met in Japan, too-but don't worry, you don't seem like a stranger; you seem like someone who cares. And for that, I thank you.

Darby--the friend who gave you those gifts seems like a very special, thoughtful person. You have very wise words and I appreciate your care and kindness more than I can say. Beauty truly does help me--thank God for beauty and kindness...

jason said...

Just so you all know, that little ornament that Darby looks at to feel comfort has a picture of me on it.

Not really.

lindsay said...

Jessica, I loved the movie the waitress! I loved how she named everything after the what she was feeling at the time. I do that all the time now when I bake. Like, "Afraid I'm going to fail my first semester of grad school pie" or whatever. It helps me, like you said, to create something precisely how I want it to be.
And, yes, the endorphins are such a beautiful thing! I think you can process through things differently when the physical energy you are exerting is equal to or more than the mental and emotional energy you are exerting. It's balancing or something.

Jessica Latshaw said...

Lindsay--I bet the "afraid I'm going to fail my first semester at grad school" pie tastes really good--and will soon be followed by the even better "totally passed my first semester of grad school with flying colors" pie!

Jase--I thought the beautiful ornament darby was referring to was that santa clause one you made and insist we hang on the tree every I wrong?!

darby said...

Actually, that Santa Claus ornament is the panacea for everything wrong with the world. One look at it, and you're cured of all pain. If only we could take it to every leader of every nation, there would be world peace!

Karenkool said...

when I'm in pain I usually get angry, so I like to take a large cardboard box out into the woods far away from people and beat it into a pulp with a bat while screaming profanities. Nature helps me a lot! (haha--I've only ever done that once and it didn't really help). Writing music is such a great outlet. I wish I were good at it. I do tend to write my thoughts to ease the pain.

I'm praying for you, Jess.

Jessica Latshaw said...

okay, the cardboard box/baseball bat/profanities combo made me smile. that probably would help--at least because the exertion would give me some endorphins or tire me out to the point that maybe I could take a nap or something...and thanks for the prayers, I really appreciate it.